Legislature(2003 - 2004)

03/30/2004 03:35 PM STA

Audio Topic
* first hearing in first committee of referral
+ teleconferenced
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
          CSHB 213(FIN) -PROVISIONAL DRIVER'S LICENSE                                                                       
CHAIR GARY STEVENS announced HB 213 to be up for consideration.                                                                 
REPRESENTATIVE  BRUCE  WEYHRAUCH,  sponsor, introduced  the  bill                                                               
using  charts  to  show  the  committee  the  number  of  vehicle                                                               
accidents involving  youths that result in  fatalities. The first                                                               
chart showed  that the  number of  crashes drops  dramatically as                                                               
drivers get older. Chart two  showed that youth driving accidents                                                               
peak after school  then again around midnight.   Crash statistics                                                               
also  show that  youths  have significantly  more accidents  when                                                               
there are more than two youths in the car.                                                                                      
The data  is stark and telling,  he said. He introduced  the bill                                                               
during the previous session and  the current committee substitute                                                               
cherry picks the best parts of laws from 40 other states that                                                                   
have enacted this type of driver's license provision.                                                                           
REPRESENTATIVE WEYHRAUCH described the following system:                                                                        
       3-Tiered System for Driver Licensing under HB 213                                                                      
Permit License       Provisional License Unrestricted                                                                         
Must be 14 years Minimum age: 16          Must      have      had                                                               
old                                       provisional     license                                                               
                                          for 6 months                                                                        
Must pass written Must       have     had Must     have     clean                                                               
test                 permit for 6 months driving     record   (no                                                               
                                          convictions         for                                                               
                                          traffic   in   past   6                                                               
                     Must pass road test                                                                                      
                     certification of 40                                                                                        
                     hours driving under                                                                                        
                     Must   have   clean                                                                                      
                     driving  record  (no                                                                                       
                     convictions      for                                                                                       
                     traffic offenses  in                                                                                       
                     past 6 months                                                                                              
           While driving with a Provisional License:                                                                          
                 No nighttime driving between 1 am and 5 am                                                                   
                    · Exceptions: kids can get work permit to                                                                   
                      drive during restricted times, kids can                                                                   
                      drive with parent or legal guardian                                                                     
                 Generally no passengers                                                                                      
                    · Exceptions: passengers who are siblings                                                                   
                      and adults over 21, passengers when                                                                       
                      accompanied by the driver's parent or                                                                     
                      legal guardian                                                                                          
CHAIR GARY STEVENS asked why provisional licensees would not be                                                                 
permitted to drive between the hours of 1 am and 5 am.                                                                          
REPRESENTATIVE WEYHRAUCH  said those  hours are  the result  of a                                                               
decision made in the House Transportation Committee.                                                                            
CHAIR GARY  STEVENS asked  if the  six month  provisional license                                                               
requirement would  impact an  18 year old  who recently  moved to                                                               
REPRESENTATIVE WEYHRAUCH  replied it wouldn't impact  anyone that                                                               
moved to  Alaska with a  valid unrestricted license  from another                                                               
state. Anyone  arriving with a  provisional license  from another                                                               
state  would  be  subject  to   the  Alaska  provisional  license                                                               
LINDA  SYLVESTER,  staff  to  Representative  Weyhrauch,  further                                                               
explained  that  the bill  targets  drivers  that are  16.  "Once                                                               
you're 18 you're an adult and you're free and clear," she said.                                                                 
SENATOR BERT STEDMAN questioned whether  a 17 year old that moved                                                               
to Alaska with  an unrestricted license from  another state would                                                               
be required to apply for a six month provisional license.                                                                       
MS.  SYLVESTER  suggested that  a  Department  of Motor  Vehicles                                                               
representative would be able to answer that question.                                                                           
SENATOR  STEDMAN  commented  that  many youths  living  in  rural                                                               
Alaska  assume  adult  responsibilities  earlier  than  in  other                                                               
areas.  With that  in mind,  he  asked how  Alaska youth  driving                                                               
fatality data compares to nationwide data.                                                                                      
REPRESENTATIVE  WEYHRAUCH opined  that the  responsibilities that                                                               
Alaskan  youths  assume  in  rural  and  fishing  communities  is                                                               
similar to  those in farm  communities in other states.  He noted                                                               
that the  bill allows  youths to  obtain a  work permit  to drive                                                               
during restricted times.                                                                                                        
MS. SYLVESTER  added that Alaska  accident statistics  for youths                                                               
mirror those from other states,  but there are more youth driving                                                               
fatalities  in Alaska.  Consistently,  accident  rates have  gone                                                               
down in states that have adopted a graduated system, she stated.                                                                
SENATOR  STEDMAN asked  why  driver's  education courses  weren't                                                               
included as a requirement.                                                                                                      
REPRESENTATIVE WEYHRAUCH  told him  that enrolling in  a driver's                                                               
education  course would  count  toward  the parent  certification                                                               
part of the provisional license.                                                                                                
MS.  SYLVESTER pointed  out that  requiring a  driver's education                                                               
course  would  burden parents  with  a  cost,  which might  be  a                                                               
hardship.  "We  also  read  a  study  that  shows  that  driver's                                                               
education does  not produce  the results  that a  holding period,                                                               
the restriction from driving around  with your friends does," she                                                               
SENATOR STEDMAN asked what happens  if someone with a provisional                                                               
license receives a traffic infraction.                                                                                          
REPRESENTATIVE  WEYHRAUCH  said  the   youth  would  have  to  be                                                               
convicted of  the infraction  before it  would impact  receipt of                                                               
the unrestricted license.                                                                                                       
CHAIR  GARY  STEVENS  referred  to  the  National  Transportation                                                               
Safety Fact Sheet and asked about restricting cell phone use.                                                                   
REPRESENTATIVE WEYHRAUCH  said the  cell phone issue  is separate                                                               
and they chose not to muddy the waters.                                                                                         
SENATOR  JOHN  COWDERY  asked  what affect  this  would  have  on                                                               
insurance rates.                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  WEYHRAUCH told  him he  wasn't sure,  but someone                                                               
from the insurance industry was available to answer questions.                                                                  
SENATOR COWDERY asked whether  infractions would affect insurance                                                               
REPRESENTATIVE WEYHRAUCH replied that is generally the case.                                                                    
SENATOR  COWDERY asked  whether the  Department of  Public Safety                                                               
favored the bill.                                                                                                               
MS.  SYLVESTER said,  "Law enforcement  is wildly  in support  of                                                               
this bill."                                                                                                                     
REPRESENTATIVE  WEYHRAUCH said  the bill  is very  specific about                                                               
the restrictions and it's only for six months.                                                                                  
SENATOR COWDERY remarked it's a good bill that has his support.                                                                 
CHAIR GARY  STEVENS referred to  page 1,  line 11 and  asked what                                                               
proof of driving experience would entail.                                                                                       
REPRESENTATIVE  WEYHRAUCH said  Mr.  Bannock  would address  that                                                               
DUANE  BANNOCK,   Division  of  Motor   Vehicles  representative,                                                               
testified  via   teleconference.  He  said  the   bill  would  be                                                               
implemented to coincide  with the effective date and  they do not                                                               
intend to recall licenses to  add the restriction. Implementation                                                               
would be through  a restriction process that would  be printed on                                                               
the license  just as  it is now  for corrective  lenses, daylight                                                               
driving etc.                                                                                                                    
With   regard    to   Senator   Stedman's    question   regarding                                                               
grandfathering  from other  states with  dissimilar programs,  he                                                               
said the  applicant would be  subject to the  provisional license                                                               
if he or she were less than 18 years old.                                                                                       
As to who would certify the  40 hours driving experience, he said                                                               
it  would typically  be  the parent  or  guardian simply  because                                                               
young  people  need parental  consent  to  apply for  a  driver's                                                               
license. The parent  might not have driven all 40  hours with the                                                               
youth, but  they are signing to  certify the hours. "And  that is                                                               
how we intend to implement this portion of this bill," he said.                                                                 
JEFF  JESSY, Alaska  State PTA  representative,  spoke in  strong                                                               
support  of  HB 213  saying  that  the association  identified  a                                                               
graduated licensing bill  as a top legislative  priority for this                                                               
session. Parents  are convinced  that having  this bill  in place                                                               
will   help  new   drivers   gain   experience  with   reasonable                                                               
restrictions imposed under manageable conditions.                                                                               
MARTHA   MOORE,  Department   of  Health   and  Social   Services                                                               
representative, spoke in  support of HB 213. In her  work she has                                                               
specifically studied  serious teen  crashes as compared  to adult                                                               
crashes.  She agreed  with Ms.  Sylvester that  Alaska statistics                                                               
mirror national statistics  and that teens are more  likely to be                                                               
involved in crashes than adults.                                                                                                
She reported  that teen  driving studies  show that  although the                                                               
death rate  for crashes  declined in  the 20  years from  1975 to                                                               
1996, for 16 year olds the  number doubled. The death rate for 17                                                               
to 19  year old drivers is  twice that for older  drivers and the                                                               
death rate for  16 year old drivers is three  times that of older                                                               
drivers.  "Immaturity alone  is  the most  significant factor  in                                                               
putting these  kids at risk,"  she said, and being  surrounded by                                                               
distractions and peer pressure just adds to the risk.                                                                           
Since 1996  38 states have  adopted a graduated  license program,                                                               
which has contributed to lowering  crash and death rates in those                                                               
states. The legislation will help  youths gain driving experience                                                               
while  under adult  supervision  and the  six months  provisional                                                               
time will allow time for increased maturity.                                                                                    
MONIQUE  BARTEAU  said  she  is   a  16  year  old  JDHS  student                                                               
testifying for  Youth in Action  and MADD  in support of  HB 213.                                                               
She believes the  bill will help reduce teen  accidents in Alaska                                                               
just as it has in North  Carolina where teen crashes have dropped                                                               
57 percent since adopting a restricted licensing program.                                                                       
4:10 pm                                                                                                                       
Senator Gretchen Guess joined the hearing.                                                                                      
DON SMITH, Alaska Highway  Safety Office Administrator, testified                                                               
in  support  of HB  213.  He  agreed  with the  statistics  given                                                               
regarding the number  of teen crashes. The bill  will save lives,                                                               
he asserted.                                                                                                                    
SHELDON WINTERS, Lobbyist for State  Farm Insurance, responded to                                                               
Senator Cowdery's  question about  how this program  would affect                                                               
insurance  rates  saying  he  had no  hard  data.  However,  most                                                               
agencies  already have  discounts  for youths  that meet  certain                                                               
safety  criteria  and  claims  certainly  affect  premiums.  It's                                                               
likely that the program will  have a generally positive affect on                                                               
claims, he said.                                                                                                                
In conclusion, he emphasized that  the bill isn't about insurance                                                               
rates; it's about saving lives  and that's where the focus should                                                               
CINDY  CASHEN,  Executive  Director  MAAD  Juneau,  testified  in                                                               
support of  HB 213. Evidence shows  that teens that go  through a                                                               
graduated license process tend to support the program, she said.                                                                
MAAD examined 2001  Alaska traffic crashes to find  out how teens                                                               
were  driving in  small  villages, and  towns,  and cities.  They                                                               
found  that 34  percent of  the crashes  in Kodiak  involved teen                                                               
drivers, 28  percent of the  crashes in Anchorage  involved teens                                                               
and  26 percent  of  the  crashes in  Barrow  were teen  related.                                                               
Across Alaska,  teens accounted  for 28  percent of  the crashes,                                                               
she said.                                                                                                                       
SENATOR  GUESS  asked  whether   they  had  considered  including                                                               
volunteer supervisor on page 1, line 11.                                                                                        
CHAIR GARY  STEVENS restated the  previous explanation  with help                                                               
from Ms. Sylvester to Senator Guess's satisfaction.                                                                             
SENATOR  GUESS  asked  whether   they  had  considered  including                                                               
volunteer situations on page 2, line 26.                                                                                        
TAPE 04-24 SIDE B                                                                                                             
4:25 pm                                                                                                                       
MS.  SYLVESTER  acknowledged  that a  graduated  license  program                                                               
would be inconvenient for a short  period of time. But, she said,                                                               
"for that small inconvenience you get a lot back."                                                                              
SENATOR GUESS  referred to the top  of page 3 and  questioned the                                                               
requirement using  the most direct  available route  because that                                                               
might not be the safest route.                                                                                                  
REPRESENTATIVE  WEYHRAUCH  told   her  the  House  Transportation                                                               
Committee  talked about  that  for at  least  three meetings.  He                                                               
assured  her that  there is  no intent  by the  sponsor to  cause                                                               
someone to drive  a dangerous route. The  driver should certainly                                                               
be allowed reasonable discretion for common sense to prevail.                                                                   
SENATOR GUESS  suggested giving  more thought  to that  issue and                                                               
then asked for a definition for "off the road system."                                                                          
MS.  SYLVESTER   said  that  provision  would   cover  a  village                                                               
REPRESENTATIVE WEYHRAUCH added that resulted from Bush concerns.                                                                
SENATOR STEDMAN  returned to the question  of dissimilar licenses                                                               
for teens moving to Alaska from  another state and asked how long                                                               
a driver has before they're required to apply for a new license.                                                                
MR. BANNOCK explained  that drivers have 30 days to  apply for an                                                               
Alaskan  license. With  regard to  the question  about dissimilar                                                               
licenses,  he   said  that  is   specifically  addressed   in  AS                                                               
28.15.055. If  a driver that  is at least  16 years old  moves to                                                               
Alaska  from a  state that  does not  have a  provisional license                                                               
program, that driver must satisfy  the Alaska provisional license                                                               
requirements if he or she is under 18 years old.                                                                                
SENATOR STEDMAN disagreed with the provision.                                                                                   
MS. SYLVESTER  advised that,  at last count,  there were  just 13                                                               
jurisdictions  that didn't  have a  three-tiered license  program                                                               
and  she thought  that  number would  be zero  in  the next  five                                                               
CHAIR  GARY STEVENS  asked how  the  instructional permit  meshes                                                               
with the provisional license.                                                                                                   
MR. BANNOCK  said they hope  that at  age 14 young  drivers begin                                                               
logging the  instructional hours addressed  on page 1,  lines 11-                                                               
REPRESENTATIVE  WEYHRAUCH pointed  out that  the bill  amends the                                                               
provisional  license  program  that  is  already  on  the  books.                                                               
There's just never been a provisional license, he said.                                                                         
SENATOR  COWDERY  made  a  motion  to  move  CSHB  213(FIN)  from                                                               
committee with the  attached fiscal note and  asked for unanimous                                                               
consent. There being no objection, it was so ordered.                                                                           

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